In video, Netanyahu accuses Tehran regime of ‘plundering’ Iranians’ smarts

In video, Netanyahu accuses Tehran regime of ‘plundering’ Iranians’ smarts

Prime minister praises expats from enemy country for making it big in Silicon Valley, asks why they have to leave to do so

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Iranians for their business inginuity, and slammed Tehran’s ruling regime for diverting the country’s wealth toward “terror,” in an English-language video Thursday.

“Iranians are among the most gifted and successful people in the world,” Netanyahu said in the video. “In Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs of Iranian heritage are among the founders and CEOs of Uber, Ebay, Dropbox and many other outstanding companies. The Iranian people are brilliant. They’re innovative.”

The prime minister accused the ruling regime of “plunder[ing] the country’s wealth.”

“Isn’t it a shame that Iran doesn’t invest in its people?” he asked. “Instead, they divert tens of billions of dollars to their nuclear program, to the spread of terror around the world, to their aggression throughout the Middle East. Meanwhile, the Iranian people are the ones that suffer.”

Netanyahu did not mention the crippling sanctions regime, imposed to push Iran away from its nuclear program and other destabilizing militant activity, which has played a major role in stunting growth inside the country for years.

He said he hoped the future would see “Iranian and Israeli entrepreneurs working together, in Iran and in Israel, for the betterment of all humanity.”

Head of the Mossad Tamir Pardo speaks during a ceremony marking 50 years since the death of Mossad agent Eli Cohen, at the President’s residence on May 18, 2015. (Haim Zach/GPO)

It was not immediately clear what prompted the video, which came weeks after the US said it was pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, a move Netanyahu had pushed for.

The video was released at the same time as Hadashot news broadcast an interview in which form Mossad head Tamir Pardo  said that in 2011 Netanyahu ordered the country’s military to prepare to strike Iran at short notice.

The events unfolded at a time when Netanyahu and then-defense minister Ehud Barak were concerned that the opportunity to hit Iran’s nuclear facilities was slipping away, as the sites would become so well-protected that any attempt to bomb them would be rendered ineffective. Israel feared that Iran was close to producing nuclear weapons, a development it had long vowed to stymie.

In the end, Pardo and then-IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz both objected to Netanyahu’s plan and the prime minister dropped the order, Pardo said.

Stuart Winer contributed to this report.

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